Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Nyctophobia: A Paranormal Investigator's Worst Nightmare

By Jennifer Furgerson
 


Nyctophobia is a fear of extreme darkness or extreme fear of the dark. Normally this is a fear that one may find associated with a child. The child grows up and the fear disappears. Not in my case. It followed me into my adulthood. My name is Jennifer Furgerson and I have Nyctophobia.


Symptoms of Nyctophobia
"If you have a phobia of the dark, you are likely to become nervous in any darkened environment. You may sleep with a nightlight. You might be reluctant to go out at night. You will likely experience an increased heart rate, sweat, shake and even feel ill when forced to spend time in the dark. If your nyctophobia is severe, you may attempt to run away from dark rooms and avoid being outside at night. You might become angry or defensive if anyone tries to encourage you to spend time in the dark."
about phobias (Nyctophobia)


I am uncertain of when my fear actually started. Most fears are created from an event or an object. I can only assume that somewhere in my past I had a traumatic experience being in total darkness. I must have been forced into total darkness. I am now 38 and I deal with this every night and any place I go that is completely void of light. So why am I a paranormal investigator? One would think that I would never seek this line of work and stay in the light as much as possible, and yet, I have been doing quiet the opposite. I take cave tours, and I star gaze. I joined a paranormal team.


Nyctophoia can be mind paralyzing. My mind races, and attempts to make sense of what it cannot see. My mind blanks of any rational thought, my heart starts to beat rapidly, and I begin to panic. I tell myself, "nothing is there which is not there in the light", but my brain plays tricks, and my ears become more sensitive to the sounds they may hear. At times I feel helpless and alone. I kept my fear to myself for many years always afraid to tell anyone why I may freak out, or not be comfortable in a darkened room.

When I first joined ALPS, I made it quite clear that I had Nyctophobia. I figured it was not the time to be shy about it. Each member since I have joined have been more than understanding with my fear. The first time we were on the USS Hornet and my fear reared its ugly head to my fellow teammates. We were in a part of the ship in which the only light came from the flashlights. We decided that we would go dark (all lights off) and sit in the silence before conducting an EVP session. I stood with my back against the cold metal wall. I thought, "I can handle this, its just the dark, and my team is near by". Instead, my mind began to close down, and the panic began. I felt paralyzed and venerable. No one until that time had any idea how bad my Nyctophobia was. Thankfully teammate Anna was near me and was able to talk my mind into logical sense of thinking. I remember thinking, "someone understands, and I can get through this."

 There were a few other places that I thought my fear would get to me, and I thought I would not be able to do my job as a paranormal investigator. In Tonopah, Nevada I had my teammate Jim next to me while we were sitting on a cold wooden floor. In this case there was more light, but it was dim and inconsistent. At times I had trouble discerning pitch black with the light dimming in and out. I thought for sure my Nyctophobia was about to play tricks on me, until Jim said he saw what I was seeing. Poor Jim, I was gripping his arm so tight I had thought I may have tugged it right off.


I am not afraid to be in a haunted location. I am certainly not afraid of the ghosts that may reside there. What I am afraid of is not knowing what else could be in a vast amount of darkness. After getting back from Tonopah, I decided that I need to rid myself of this fear and asked the help of my teammates. I no longer wanted this fear to control me.

Over the two years that I have been with ALPS I have a better grasp on my Nyctophobia. Its slowly getting easier. I even find myself laughing instead of being pinned in fear. I started out making sure I had night vision with me no matter where we went. Yet, as it was recently pointed out, that I have not had it with me on the last few places our team had been. I also used to keep my flash light on, but covered in my hands. This gave me a sense of comfort. This too has changed, the flashlight is still with me, but off and in my pocket. Over time I have had help from all my teammates. I used to have to be right next to one of my teammates, but now if they are within hearing distance, I know they are not far away. They have become my other sense of comfort.


Nyctophobia is a fear that I plan to conquer, and I know it will take time. Looking back at how far I have come, and how silly I may have seem to those who had no idea I held such a fear in my mind, makes me realize that this fear is just that, a fear to shed from my mind.


So what's my next step? Eventually I would like to be able to be in a dark (void of light) alone and to be able to either be the first in or the last out of a dark place we have been investigating. By forcing myself into this darkness, I have already taken the step in attempting to control my fear.



 For those wanting to now more about Nyctophobia please feel free to check out the links below.

 Wikipedia on Nyctophobia

 Nyctophobia and sleep

 Fear of the Dark

 more on Nyctophobia
 


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